Vanilla Bean Yellow Cake

Vanilla Bean Yellow Cake

I can’t believe that it has taken me THIS LONG to post about this cake. I made this cake for my birthday party last month, and it is my favorite birthday cake yet. It is a moist made-from-scratch yellow cake with blackberry and raspberry filling, and iced with cream cheese buttercream loaded with vanilla.

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Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

NEW Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice SoupThis is the start of a LONG overdue series called…HOLY COW I WAS HORRIBLE WHEN I STARTED AND I NEED TO RESHOOT ALL MY OLD STUFF!!!! Okay, so I’ll probably come up with something a little more succinct than that, but you get the drift.

I think almost all bloggers that have been at this for more than a few years have these posts lurking in the way way back of their archives just waiting to be dug out, pinned, and paraded around the internet as a current representation of your work.

Want to know how far you can come and how much you can grow in four+ years? I present to you…the BEFORE.

creamy chicken wild rice old

I think there’s been a little improvement. Tiny bit.

NEW Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

This soup remains one of my favorites, no matter how good or bad the photo of it may be! Thanks to my awesome sister-in-law Jen for introducing me to this, and countless other dishes.

I knew I was finally an actual adult, and making some progress in the kitchen when you started asking me for my opinion on things now and then. You and Denise’s (My awesome mother-in-law!) encouragement and kitchen prowess has seriously made me strive to improve, search, and seek out different dishes to trot out at Sunday dinners because I know if you and your Mama like it, it must be good.

NEW Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

NEW Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • enough water to cover chicken in stock pot
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons chicken better than bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons rubbed sage
  • 2 cups wild rice, uncooked and rinsed well
  • 3 cups carrots, diced
  • 5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Remove as much meat as possible from the chicken. Place water and chicken carcass in a medium to large sized stock pot. Let simmer for at least 1 hour, but up to 3-4 is best. Using a large spoon, break down the bird in the pot after it softens up from simmering.
  2. When stock is completed, strain through a fine mesh strainer and return the stock to the pan. Add additional water if your stock has substantially cooked down. Bring the water level up to *almost* its original level. Add onion, celery, chicken better than bouillon, sage, wild rice, carrots and mushrooms into the pot. Let simmer, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat.
  3. While the soup is simmering, melt butter in small saute pan. Add flour and whisk. Let cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown.
  4. Slowly add to simmering soup while stirring. Let simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until combined.

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Simple Sous Vide Steak

Sous Vide Steak

Oh.Good.Golly. Yup. I’ve been hearing about sous vide cooking for several years now, but I’d never had the opportunity to try it until the Taste dinner at IFBC this year. Sous Vide Supreme was one of the sponsors of the event, and was serving up some amazing 48 hour brisket for everyone. It was outstanding. So tender. Juicy. Flavorful.

When I got the opportunity to test and review a Sous Vide Supreme machine, I was so excited!

These steaks were the first dish I made with my Sous Vide machine, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. I followed the directions included with the machine, and out came some of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Start with some good steaks.

Sous Vide Steak

First, you lightly season your meat and vacuum seal it. I threw a little butter in as well.

Sous Vide Steak

After your machine is preheated, go ahead and add your steaks into the machine.

Sous Vide Steak

We like our steaks medium rare, so I cooked them at 131.00. They were a *little* more done that I usually prefer, so next time we will cook them at 128 and see how that is!

One of the major benefits of Sous Vide cooking is that the food never goes above the set temperature, so steaks stay medium rare for the entire time they are in the machine. NO overcooking. Cook your steaks for at least an hour, or up to 8 hours.

Sous Vide Steak

When you are ready to serve them, pull them from the machine, cut the bags, and give them a quick sear.

Sous Vide Steak-6

Serve and enjoy!

Sous Vide Steak

Make sure you jump over to the Sous Vide Supreme website and enter their amazing sweepstakes they have running until October 24th.
Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 5.11.27 PM

Simple Sous Vide Steak
 
Prep time
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Author:
Ingredients
  • Steaks of your choosing
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter per steak
Instructions
  1. Preheat your sous vide machine to your desired temp. (120F/49C rare; 134F/56.5C medium rare; 140F/60C medium; 150F/65.5C medium well.)
  2. Lightly season your steaks with salt and pepper. Vacuum seal in a food-grade cooking pouch, and place in machine for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
  3. Remove from machine and quickly sear in a grill pan or an outdoor grill.

 

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Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan has been one of my very favorite meals for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make the best version, and it was one of the first things I really wanted to recreate when I started cooking.

This slow cooker chicken divan is perfect to make on a day when you are home to babysit it a bit, but don’t want to stand over the stove. You can have the cream of broccoli soup for lunch, and chicken divan for dinner! I’ve wanted to start developing some more slow cooker meals because I LOVE my slow cooker, and I’m also involved in a pretty awesome Crazy for Crock Pots Recipe Group over on Facebook with some very cool ladies who have been inspiring me and encouraging me to GET cRockin’!

Start by melting your butter in the slow cooker and whisking in the flour.

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Cook it for about 5 minutes, whisking frequently, and then add in the water, bouillon, garlic salt, onion powder, and frozen broccoli.

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours, or on high heat for 2-3, stirring occasionally. As soon as the broccoli is cooked through and the soup has thickened a bit you have yourself a very legit cream of broccoli soup. I had a bowl with some cheese and crusty bread. You could totally stop right here and make this dinner and no one would complain.

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

But if you have some people in your house who don’t consider it dinner unless there is some major meat and starch involved, press on soldier. This is going to turn into dinner tonight.

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

After the chicken and noodles are cooked, stir in some cheese and toss on the ritz and some more cheese.

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Cover it and let the cheese get nice and melty, and serve with some salad and crusty bread. Mmmmmmmm…..

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan

Slow Cooker Chicken Divan
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken better than bouillon
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 pound frozen broccoli
  • 2 large chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound high quality pasta
  • ½ sleeve ritz crackers, crushed
  • 2½ cups shredded cheese, divided
Instructions
  1. Turn slow cooker onto high heat and melt butter. Whisk in flour and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in water, garlic salt, onion powder, and frozen broccoli. Let cook on medium heat for 2-3 hours on high, or 4-5 hours on low, stirring occasionally. Stir in heavy cream.
  2. Add the chicken, and cook for an hour. Test chicken for doneness, and add pasta during last 20 minutes of cooking time. Stir in 2 cups cheese until melty. Mix up crushed ritz and remaining half cup of cheese, and sprinkle over the top. Heat until the cheese is melted.
Notes
Adjust cooking times according to your specific slow cooker.
Test chicken doneness by cutting a piece in half and if there is no pink its done!
Use rotisserie chicken for easier prep. Add in at the very end with the pasta.
Low quality pasta or egg noodles will take much less time to cook than high quality pasta.

 

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Wendy’s Frosties for Adoption


 

Halloween_coupons

My kids LOVE Halloween. They look forward to it and plan for it for months. We don’t make a big deal of it, generally, because I’m not a big fan for a whole host of reasons, but we’ve chosen to let our kids participate in some of the “fun” parts of the festivities.

Managing the candypalooza that follows is always interesting though. I know some people put up the candy buckets and dole it out piece by piece, but we tend to go the other route and just let them go crazy for a few days. I’ve stopped short of creating a contest to see who can eat all their candy the fastest, but I’ve been tempted. The faster they eat it, the less time I have to manage the candy wrappers, the begging and pleading and prodding for “just one more piece”, the candy fights, and the continual sugar high that ends up turning into utter and complete chaos around here. I’ve taken the same “rip the bandaid” off stance with Easter too. The last two Easters I think my kids entire breakfast AND lunch has consisted of 90% candy. I might be the worst, or maybe I might just have this candy crap figured right out.

IMG_0356

One thing I LOVE seeing in their candy buckets are these awesome FREE Jr. Frosty coupons from Wendy’s®. I collect them from all four kids’ buckets and then put them all up on the fridge, where they get to look at them and think about them many many times a day. This inevitably leads to questions about when, and how they can finagle a trip to the next town over and get themselves some FROSTIES, stat! Do you KNOW how many floor sweepings and laundry shoot emptying and chicken waterings I can get out of ONE trip to Wendy’s for a Jr. Frosty??? Those little coupons are like magic chore tickets around here, and I hoard them like $20 bills.

I also love the fact that ninety cents of every $1 Halloween Coupon Book sold between September 13 – October 31, 2014 will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®. (Coupons are valid for use: November 1, 2014 through February 1, 2015.) For 22 years, Wendy’s® has supported foster care adoption. This is a cause so near and dear to my heart. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® believes that we have a responsibility to be the voice of foster care adoption, so that every child finds a family. As founder Dave Thomas said, “These children are not someone else’s responsibility. They are our responsibility.” The DTFA exist to find homes for children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care in North America. I totally agree. Even if you cannot personally care for a foster child, there are so many ways to get involved and come behind those people whom have taken up this calling and made an impact on children at the most vulnerable times in their lives.

Halloween 2013

Did you know that there are more than 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption? If you feel the call to adoption, I urge you to look into the possibility of adopting into your family one of these children who so desperately need a permanent place to call home. Thanks to Wendy’s® consumers and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®, 4,000+ children have found adoptive families.

Visit your local Wendy’s® to purchase a Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Book* for $1, which benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This entry was posted in Blog.

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Creme Brulee Pinterest

Crème brûlée is my favorite dessert, ever. If I am eating out and there’s dessert being ordered, that is the one I will always always always pick. I LOVE it. The custard is so creamy and contrasts so well with the crunchy, sweet, caramelized sugar.

These days our dinners out are few and far between, so I really really wanted to make this myself. I don’t have a torch at home, so I have to plan it just right so that I can use my awesome brother-in-law’s blow torch, and this past Sunday the stars aligned and I decided to whip up a big batch of Crème brûlée for everyone to enjoy after Sunday dinner. It also lets me have a great excuse to shoot some photos on my sister-in-law’s amazing outdoor weathered wood hutch. I LOVE this thing. I shot Blackberry Crisp on it previously, and I think the background works so well for so many things. You just cannot fake true weathered wood.

Speaking of Sunday dinner, Jen made a unbelievably good pork roast with a cream gravy, roasted potatoes, and fresh butter rolls. That meal is one of the best I have ever had. We will definitely be making that again here, and I’m hoping to have that for you in a crockpot version this fall. You will go crazy. NO packets, or cream-of soups involved in that one. YUM.

In the midst of the cooking and shooting the crème brûlée my 7 year old came in and informed me that I just HAD to take some “photos” of all the kids playing in the leaves. Who can resist that kind of request? I’ll take “photos” of you anytime, you little squishy darling! Here are a few of my favorites from that impromptu photo shoot.

Fall Photos Collage 1

Also these ones…

Fall Leaves Collage 2

I love fall leaves, and they aren’t so abundant here like they are in the Midwest. They also aren’t played in much because they are usually soaked with rain. We are having an amazing summer and fall here in Western Washington!

I got some amazing vanilla bean samples from the folks at Rodelle Vanilla, and I’ve been really wanting to find different ways to use them. Vanilla is my favorite flavor, so these were especially thrilling, and probably one of my favorite sponsors of the IFBC conference this year.

I already made REALLY great vanilla cupcakes that I need to write up and post soon, but for now we’ll talk about this amazing, smooth, creamy, vanilla bean crème brûlée.

Creme Brulee

Isn’t the color of those egg yolks amazing? Happy chickens = brightly colored egg yolks!

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Make sure to scrape off the foam that develops, and just try to not eat it all with a spoon.

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Gently bake these in a water bath. Word to the wise…fill the baking pans with hot water while they are in your oven on the racks because transferring them from the counter to the oven while filled can get a little dicey!

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

I missed a little foam, but I was crunched for time so I couldn’t get too finicky about it.

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Remove these from the oven when they are just set. The center will still be a little jiggly. Chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before firing. Hot torch plus cold glass can be bad news. We lots one of ours during the firing!

Sprinkle with some vanilla sugar (or regular if you don’t have vanilla sugar).

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

And carefully fire them until they are golden brown.

Vanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Enjoy immediately!

Vanilla Bean Crème brûléeVanilla Bean Crème brûlée

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Smooth, creamy, and delicious Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée is not just for the restaurants anymore. Make it at home with fresh ingredients.
Author:
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 12-14
Ingredients
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • Vanilla sugar for sprinkling on tops
Instructions
  1. Combine the cream, sugar, vanilla bean pulp and pod, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to stir frequently for 10 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean pod and reserve for another use.
  3. Whisk together egg yolks, and temper egg yolks by SLOWLY drizzling ¼ cup of hot cream mixture into the yolks while whisking. Continue to slowly drizzle and whisk until you've added about a cup of cream and incorporated it into the yolks. Now start drizzling the egg mixture SLOWLY into the milk mixture, whisking constantly, until all of the egg yolks are incorporated.
  4. Place ramekins onto a large deep baking pan, put into a preheated 325 degree oven, and the fill the pan with hot water until it is equal to the level of the custard mixture inside the ramekins.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the mixture is set but the center is still slightly jiggle.
  6. Remove from oven carefully (the water is HOT!!) and remove ramekins from the water. Let cool on counter for 30 minutes, and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  7. Just before serving, sprinkle the tops lightly with vanilla sugar, and fire carefully with a propane torch. Serve immediately.

 

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